No Hangover Club: Shell Campbell

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I started binge drinking when I was 17 and by the time I was 36, I’d been blackout drinking every night for years. Not surprisingly, it was causing issues in my life. I was struggling to get to work, I’d drink too much at events and damage my relationships with my friends and family, I’d lose things, break things, hurt myself, black out and forget things I’d done and my health was deteriorating. I had so many wakeup calls over the years and so many times I tried to slow down my drinking, but I got to a point where I couldn’t be at home without drinking, and I would look for any excuse to be at home so that I could drink. 

The last time I drank, I hit rock bottom. I couldn’t deny that I had an addiction and I knew I had to get help. I started seeing a psychologist and taking meds for my anxiety disorder. I didn’t realise how common it is for people with mental health issues to self-medicate with alcohol and other substances. As I started to learn about addiction and to view it as a condition rather than a character flaw, I started feeling more hopeful about the future. It was very hard working through emotions without alcohol, but as I overcame each challenge and dealt with things in my life that needed addressing, it was impossible not to see the benefits. 

I learned that I needed to be kind to myself and work on loving myself. I learned that I had to remove people and things from my life that were toxic or negative. I started a gratitude journal and started trying to do small acts of random kindness every day. By showing my insecurities and allowing myself to be vulnerable I was shocked to discover that I started connecting with people and that I was loved and accepted just for being myself.

Addiction does not define you. The addicts I have met through recovery are kind, smart, creative, brave, loyal and empathetic. I notice that between us all there are common threads… a history of mental illness, trauma, domestic abuse/narcissistic abuse etc, eating disorders, depression, anxiety. I truly believe the key to it all is working on self-love and learning to heal the parts of yourself that are broken. For me, the more I focus on these things, I see that everything else stems from this, so the more energy I put into it, the more every area of my life starts to improve. Recovery is possible. Change is possible. If I can do it, anyone can!